top of page

Boots to Amazon: Vision, The Story of Perception

My apologies for the time between my last blog and this one. Lots concluding and coming to fruition over the last several months. I have moved from DAL3 to SAT2, moved from the inbound to outbound space, promoted to Assistant General Manager to launch AUS2 in the Austin metro area and have finished a four-months long Amazon development program called Dawson549. The story and blog below was part of the Capstone from that program:

What we perceive your vision to be is more impactful than what you say it is. Perceptions of your vision are borne out of the resources, time and dedicated effort that you have placed into us understanding the importance of what it means to the organization’s success.

Parents for instance, instinctively know how to motivate and inspire their children. Albeit some are better than others, but for the most part in their effort to explain the world - parents develop visions for their families. Think - Tiger, Simone, Serina…me for instance

Visions should be simple enough that it can be easily understood. Children will give you their complete faith and confidence that you as a parent, teacher or coach have their best interest at heart - if as one of those trusted agents your vision resonates with them. Ok, that is a bit of hyperbole, complete trust and confidence for a child is probably rarely achieved, but what I mean is to keep your vision short, ensure it is memorable and the meaningfulness will be evidenced by your organization’s and even your children’s willing adoption and belief in it. Like, Amazon will be the safest and most customer-centric company in the world.

I will give you two personal examples and you can tell me if I am right or wrong.

I believe my parents were vision-aries. They raised my sister and me to believe that we could accomplish anything that we wanted. They were so good that until just two short years ago I could have sworn that we grew up rich. I grew up fishing off the waterfront steps of Corpus Christi, Texas, on a tree lined cul-de-sac in a house with a huge backyard full of fruit trees and space to run. My mother changed her car every year and my dad was a supervisor at Southwestern Bell. We went to private school and had tutors to help us with anything that we needed. We were the house where everyone gathered for birthdays, holidays and most importantly on Sundays. We were a Dallas Cowboy Family…!!! My Dad and I were super fans and everyone else were along for the ride. Or Blue Origin’s, to benefit Earth and increase access to Space.

Two years ago, my idealic view of my youth was shattered when I decided to take the short drive down I-37 from San Antonio to show my wife my wonderful childhood home. And not only was the tree-lined neighborhood not that, but my house was the size of my present day garage and the cul-de-sac was more of a corner turn. My wife literally had to stop me from hopping the fence to see if the orchard was actually out back. In retrospect I know my parents were not rich, but it felt like we were. We never wanted for anything. So not only do I know that my parent’s vision was to ensure that we were protected, educated and comforted, but I can tell you that it was backed up by their actions and I am better off for it.

The second example of why visions should be so simple that a child should be able to embrace it comes from a beloved teacher. As I stated earlier I went to private school. And no it wasn’t because we were rich. The school was a very close in proximity to my house and my Mom worked extra shifts at the hospital to pay for the very modest fee. My first grade teacher was Mrs. Murphy and I loved her...and she loved me. She must have retired after my class, because I do not remember seeing her in my second grade year. I do remember begging my Mom for a few dollars one Christmas so that I could buy her some perfume. Now don’t ask what it smelled like, but I knew Mrs. Murphy would like it because my Mom had gotten some for my Grandmother for her birthday and she had loved it. I also know to this day how she made me feel. I recently asked my Mom why I loved her so much and my Mom told me that she had taught me to read and write and opened an entire world for me. I asked her why I didn’t know how to read prior to the first grade and she told me that I mixed my words up and wrote everything backwards. Dyslexia? No, I am saying that everything was tangled up so Mrs. Murphy tutored you after school every day for a year. The tutor...!!! I know that Mrs. Murphy was very proud of me when I passed the 1st grade. It was as if she had invested all the knowledge from her 40-year teaching career in me and she loved that I thrived. My Mom actually kept in contact with her and she knew when I commissioned to Second Lieutenant. I know now, and even as a child I intuitively knew that Mrs. Murphy’s vision was to ensure that no child was left behind even if it took more time than she was required to invest. See, simple, actionable and backed up with her time and effort.

My vision for my team has likewise been simple. Currently it is Engage, Inspire, and Challenge the known so that we can illuminate and overcome the unknown. The onus for the vision is on me, but it offers a torchlight for Associates that is beyond metrics and the banality of restating everyday tasks.

I am positive that your vision says absolutely nothing about call-outs and barrier identification, but I also know that many of you believe that that is the road we have gone down. I am happy to say that we have not gone so far that we have failed to recognize that positive, non-work-related engagement and our employee well-being are essential to the culture of the company. So as you embark to put your stamp on your organization remember your vision has to resonate with your team...and what principally matters is what your team believes or perceives your vision to be. Your every goal has to be the reinforcement and validation of the tenets that align with the organizational objectives and conditions that support the adoption of and belief in your vision.

Whether it is the feeling of being loved and supported in your humble childhood home. Or if a teacher gives you the confidence to overcome educational shortfalls. Or if you are bolstered to believe that you can accomplish missions large or small just from the support given to you by a trusted leader. Visions exist only in the hearts and minds of those they are meant to influence. Keep it short, ensure it is memorable and the meaningfulness will be evidenced by your organization’s willing adoption and belief in it.

Lee Flemming is a retired Army Colonel currently working at Austin 2 (AUS2) Fulfillment Center in Pflugerville, Texas as an Assistant General Manager. Lee is a 28-year Army Veteran with extensive operations and management experience. The Boots to Amazon series includes regular installments meant to inform and educate Service Members and the public about transitioning into employment at Amazon.

bottom of page